Nothing prepares you for the upheaval of a new baby. You think you’ve read all the books, heard all the advice. Yet when comes the time of caring for your own baby, one word comes to mind: overwhelming! It is noon before you get a chance to get dressed, and the trying game of guessing if the baby is fussing because she’s hungry, tired, or just bored. Without mentioning that she is hungry the minute you walk out that door…
You might have heard the same suggestion more and more often: get a sling.
Get a sling? How would that help?
Baby carriers are more than just a way of transporting a baby from point A to point B, as you would use a pram. Try carrying your baby as you go about your daily life, tidying the house, making dinner, going out shopping, seeing friends… Turn your baby carrier into a parenting tool, a way to help you respond to her needs while getting some of your freedom back. Wear your baby!
Carrying your baby in a sling provides them with a gentle transition from being carried in the womb to living in the outside world and gives you a chance to have your hands free.
A lot of mums come to ‘baby wearing’ with their second child. They realise that getting through the day will be a lot easier with their hands free and without a baby screaming in the background. Hence the idea to choose a comfortable sling, pop the baby in and get on with the day.
Holding your little one close to you gives the baby a lot of mummy-time which they would not have if you have older children to care for. “This is particularly important for me as I have three children under 5 to care for”, says Donna of Orkney.
Using a sling makes it easier to feed the baby. Some mums manage to feed the baby in the sling, inside our outside the house. Some slings provide enough privacy that most people would have no idea you’re breastfeeding the baby. “I haven’t managed to feed Jabob in the sling, says Fiona from Wighouse, but he tends to go a little bit longer between feeds in the the sling, giving more time to do things.”
Parents of babies suffering from reflux are often distressed about little they can do to relieve their baby’s pain. “Noah has reflux so lying down for any length of time is painful for him and leads to long screaming fits. We were struggling to keep him happy at first but I have now cut out dairy which has helped and we keep him upright all day. As soon as I get up in the morning, I get dressed, put on a carrier and wear him”, says Bee of Aberdeen.
Babies sleep well in a sling, your movement rocks and cuddles them. “Mayeul sleeps better than his sister was at the same age. I don’t think it’s only due to the sling, some children are good sleepers and others aren’t. But by having him close to me, I’ve learnt his natural sleep signs and been able to put him in bed when he is drowsy to let him fall asleep.” says Anne (Glasgow)
Using a sling is also a way to make new friends, people come and talk to you. “I’m a bit of a celebrity in my small Missouri town, says Julie, People ask me questions, tell me how comfortable the baby looks”. The Sling Meet forum also helps mums around the country meet up to try on new slings and socialise.
The unexpected result of wearing a newborn… the house is so tidy! Instead of pacing the house with a baby in arms trying to put him to sleep, says Anne, I put him in the sling and tidy the house. The motion puts him to sleep in 15 minutes and it makes me feel really good – both the tidy house and the sleeping baby!
One drawback is that you have your hands free, and you can get things done. It’s easy to do too much, get back quickly in the swing of things. Take the time to rest, lie down with your baby, enjoy the babyhood, time flies and babies grow quickly.
Go ahead, give it a try, get a sling!
© Anne Dhir, October 2007.